Surviving from one paycheque to the next the Shelter and YouGov study found that almost three million private renters could be just one paycheque away from losing their home.
The situation is particularly bleak for working families with children. The charity found a staggering 60%, or 760,000 renting families could be just one paycheque away from losing their home. What is worse, a job loss would render more than half a million of these families (550,000) immediately unable to pay their rent.
This concerning snapshot of life for struggling renters’ chimes with the government’s own figures, which reveal 63% of private renting households have no savings at all. Sadly, this is not surprising given they spend on average 41% of their monthly income on rent costs – making it incredibly difficult for private renters to put anything aside.
Shelter is using its latest findings to argue for more social homes as the only stable and genuinely affordable alternative to private renting for millions of people. With the country in a state of political and economic uncertainty, the charity is urging all parties not to side-line the housing crisis, and to ensure social housebuilding is at the centre of any domestic agenda.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “By allowing the number of genuinely affordable social homes to plummet, politicians have super-charged our housing emergency.
“Millions of working people are now caught in an endless cycle of paying grossly expensive private rents they can barely afford – with all the insecurity that brings. Many are terrified that even a short-term dip in income could result in them losing their home for good.
“Warm words and piecemeal policies will not solve this deepening crisis. The only way politicians can fix what has gone so wrong is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years.”
Case study: Zoe, 44, is a single parent who lives with her 16-year-old son. She currently works two part-time jobs as a carer (30 hours a week). Every month is a financial struggle.
Zoe says: “I work two jobs, but I’m still in a precarious position. If for some reason I lost my job, I worry how quickly we’d end up homeless. I can’t afford to save even £10 a month – everything goes. It’s a stressful situation, I’m just lucky I’ve got my friends around me and we try to help each other out.
“Sometimes I feel looked down on because I don’t have much money or can’t save a month’s worth of rent. But it’s not through lack of trying. I’m a single parent who is trying to be both mum and dad for my son; trying to be both at home for him and the bread winner.
“Life is hard, but I know it’s the same for thousands of other people like me. When you scratch the surface so many people are living month to month – ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.”